Stockport to offload Ritz site for resi

The former Ritz cinema site, once destined for a hotel development, is to be marketed for sale by Stockport Council for residential development.

Currently occupied by surface parking holding 81 cars, the freehold for the site, between Piccadilly and Fletcher Street, was transferred to the council in September 2009 in a land swap with Elias Property, which saw that business acquire the neighbouring Fletcher Street car park for £225,000.

Stockport’s executive had approved the deal on the basis that a leasehold deal be agreed with Somerston Hotels for the Ritz site, but these plans failed to come to fruition as the property market declined.

A report, copied to the council’s resource management, communities & housing and economy & regeneration committees, will go before Stockport’s cabinet next week recommending that it approves the sale.

The site comprises 0.6 acres and occupies a location between two sites proposed for development as part of Stockport’s plans to bring forward town centre sites with capacity for 3,000 homes, the Regal House and Greenhale House sites.

Rather than sell on the open market and lose control, or procure a development partner in a time-consuming process, the marketing and disposal is proposed as a two-stage plan as the council seeks to retain a “sufficient degree of control over development of the site while minimising any risk from disposal of the asset”.

The proposed method is a development lease, which will see the council transfer the land on completion of the scheme. The council said that this will provide incentive to build the scheme out quickly, while the developer would avoid significant financial outlay at the outset.

A planning appraisal is currently being prepared, which will include an assessment of the site and surrounding area and set out the parameters for future development based on planning policy, environmental designations, density, design considerations and access.

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